Every child in some respects is like all other children, but there are bound to be some qualities which make the child unique. Understanding and developing the special qualities of each child is the key to success.
It is now well established that making a child feel special builds his/her self-esteem. If they can make a child feel special, they have scored a major victory. If children are given opportunities to use their imagination and creativity and are allowed to express themselves in their own way, they will grow in self-esteem.
Children who feel good about their personal characteristics gain confidence and approach things more positively. These children start making efforts to improve their lot and also succeed when they receive the approval and respect of others. Once a child starts appreciating his/her qualities and learns to enjoy being different, he/she is destined for glory.
Below you will find 6 steps to make your child feel special:
1) Accept Your Child
Accepting the child – all of him/her – including the good and the bad is the first step towards acknowledging that the child is unique. While parents may focus on changing undesirable behavior, they should not insist on changing everything about the child to fit their specifications.
It is important that you communicate this acceptance of your children by appreciating their assets and praising their accomplishments. You must provide children opportunities to explain their feelings, opinions and actions and attitudes. This can clear many doubts and misunderstandings between parents and children. Remember, acceptance of uniqueness is the key to self-esteem.
2) Avoid Undue Comparisons
If parents keep the concept of ‘special traits’ in mind, many problems arising out of unwarranted and unjustified comparisons among children can be avoided. Undue comparisons have the potential to damage a child’s personality, seriously and permanently. Without even realizing it, parents can make a child feel inferior and unwanted by praising her siblings or peers. This is especially damaging if it is done in the background of constant criticism and running down of the child.
Parents cite the example of children who are good in studies or successful in sports, in the fond hope that their children will also be motivated to perform better. If this is done judiciously and skillfully, it might help the child, but insensitivity on the part of parents can injure the child’s pride and give him/her an inferiority complex. As a consequence, instead of improving, the child’s performance deteriorates.
3) Let Children Do Things Their Own Way
Most parents when they see their child writing with the left hand, they force him/her into using the right one. Wrong beliefs and taboos are responsible for this practice. By inducing a natural left-hander into becoming a right hander, parents only end up confusing the child and the brain.
Each child has a different way of doing things. Jennifer is eleven years old. She always preferred to take medicines in the form of tablets. Even when she was a three-year-old, she could easily swallow pills of various sizes. Her elder sister Sharon is thirteen years old, and still chokes at the sight of a tablet. She must have medicines in the form of syrups which have to be given in large quantities because she weighs more than forty kilograms.
The message is clear – Don’t tamper with the child’s basic temperament. Personality traits need modification only if they are likely to harm the child’s future prospects.
4) Allow Children to Express Themselves Creatively
Due to a variety of reasons, some children have a low sense of self confidence. They often say that they are not good at anything or that they can’t achieve any success. Parents should not take these statements lightly as they denote that the child is facing serious problems with his/her self-esteem.
Before these feelings snowball into a full-grown inferiority complex, they should try to identify areas in which the child has a special interest. If the child can paint, arrange flowers, sing or play an instrument, he/she should be motivated to take these up as hobbies. At the same time, parents should bolster the child’s sense of uniqueness by praising his/her work.
5) Facilitate Your Child’s Learning Style
Some children put on music while studying; others want pin drop silence. Some get up early in the morning, while others study late into the night. Parents must identify and support the child’s style of learning, provided it is producing the desired results. Trying to alter a child’s way of leaning may adversely affect his/her academic performance.
We have seen parents asking, indeed forcing their child to read quietly, while he/she prefers to read aloud and can remember the facts better this way. Parents should understand that these children need both visual and auditory inputs to memorize things.
6) Loving Each Child Best
‘Since he was about three, everything to do with Ravi has been a struggle,’ recalls Mrs. Shah, his mother and explains, ‘The first word he ever spoke was “No”, and he is still as stubborn. Even before he has unwrapped the gift in his hand, he’s busy demanding the next one. His tantrums begin as soon as it is time to study, and he’s never hungry at mealtimes. He’s never happy with the clothes he wears and is quite proud of the fact that he can make me lose my temper so easily!’
She further adds, ‘Ravi never misses a single opportunity. He can’t bear his younger brother, Dipak, getting the bigger piece of chocolate. He complains that his teachers are always nice to his classmates, not him. He’s always up in arms against injustice done to him, no matter how slight or unintentional. Dipak on the other hand, is an easygoing child. He is organized, self sufficient, responsible and helpful. Unlike Ravi he doesn’t need to be constantly reminded that he must take a bath, eat his breakfast, complete his homework, etc.’
Mrs. Shah faces a dilemma most mothers would want to avoid. According to her, ‘I often wonder if I love Dipak more than Ravi. I blame myself for not being a better mother, more appreciative of and responsive to Ravi’s needs. How many times I promised myself that I will never yell at Ravi again but it doesn’t help, I’m back to yelling at him soon enough.’
Many parents face a similar predicament, but there is no need to feel guilty or miserable. You love your children with passion, each for very different reasons. If you have one easygoing child, feel happy for the little mercies, for the other one is bound to make you realize that parenting is no piece of cake!